Opinion: Emerald Street Literary Festival

Yesterday, I spent a delightful day at the Emerald Street Literary Festival. Emerald Street is a daily fashion / lifestyle / literary / food email – online magazine in email form if you will – and I always look forward to it pinging into my inbox.

The venue for the literary festival was the beautiful Royal Geographical Society in Kensington and, unusually for England in the summer, it was a gloriously sunny day! So setting-wise, it was all just picture-perfect.


The talks were held in the main building and (pictured-below) a marquee in the garden was the ideal place to sit in a comfy chair and read, test your knowledge with a book quiz or get crafty and make yourself a heart bookmark. As you can see below, I proved to be excellent at bookmark-making. Also, free books! Who doesn’t love a free book? You could choose from six titles from Headline Publishing, so I went for This Must be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell. I felt it was a good summer read option.


A mixture of talks and workshops took place throughout the day, in the morning I attended The Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction: Why Do We Love to Talk About Books? – where Bailey’s Prize co-founder and honorary director, author Kate Mosse, chaired a panel of writers from this year’s prize – Ayobami Adebayo and Naomi Alderman – who were shortlisted for their books Stay With Me and The Power respectively. The latter, which went on to win the prize, has been one of my favourite reads this year. Both authors were interesting, engaging and gave a thoughtful insight into both their writing process, as well as recommending some must-reads (including Beloved by Toni Morrison, Ali Smith’s short stories.)


The Essex Serpent was my first read of 2017 and it set the bar high for me, I just loved it, so I was really looking forward to the afternoon talk with the author, Sarah Perry: Essex Girls, Serpents and Writing a Best-seller: Sarah Perry in Conversation with Lucy Mangan – and it’s always so lovely when your expectations are met, Sarah is such a fascinating woman. She told us about growing up in Essex in a strict, religious family with no television, no books published past 1910, making her own clothes – as she put it, “I was brought up in 1860.” Interestingly, this is not something she actually minded or rebelled against, her personality was perfectly suited to this lifestyle. Her upbringing influenced her writing style and she has such a refreshing take on writing, characters and how she approaches her work. I loved finding out more about her, a really great way to round off the day!


Can’t wait for next year!

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